For years, the Oxfam have prided themselves on their charitable work helping deprived countries with providing clean water and food for all, funding education, empowering women and protecting people from the eminent climate crisis, with all expenses being paid for by the money that is raised through the generous donors and volunteers at the thousands of Oxfam shops around the globe, including the Hampstead bookshop which opened in 2011 on Heath Street.

Jacoba, who was manager for the Hampstead bookshop when the pandemic first struck the UK, was faced with the challenging task of making sure the shop was still able to receive a sustainable amount of donations, and that they could sell these donations efficiently whilst the shop was shut down to maintain social distancing. Jacoba reveals over email that the unprecedented and sudden nature of the first lockdown meant initially Oxfam suffered a significant loss of income as all shops had to be closed because they were not considered as essential services, meaning people could not come into the shop to donate books and what donations remained could not be sold. It was only during the second and third lockdowns that noble volunteers were given the opportunity to sacrifice their time to come into the store and help put donated books onto the online shop, which managed to partially restabilise the organisation.

To ensure business was still running smoothly, a core team was established to keep everything ticking over, and furthermore, members of staff who were paid wages to manage the volunteering were mostly covered by the government so that overall the charitable proportion of their income could be as unaffected as possible.

Despite this, Jacoba admits that during the pandemic Oxfam did not have as great an impact as they might have liked. The organisation’s financial history between the beginning of each financial year in 2020 and 2021 reveals a £13 million decrease in total expenditure and a £67 million decrease in total gross income. However, the total expenditure of £384 million shows that despite hardships of the pandemic, Oxfam were still having a significant impact on fighting global poverty.

But after recovering from the pandemic and changing management, does the Bookshop still have what it takes to have such an outstanding impact on the world with the rising cost of living and energy, and a winter of discontent looming. The shop’s current manager, Beatriz, reveals over email that over the last few weeks since the currency plummeted, there have been a significant decrease in sales. However, the shop is already prepared to sustain as much income as possible during these circumstances, having already established guidelines for staff to save energy in the store to reduce expenses. However, the shop still intends to uphold its values of offering the best possible services to the public, regardless of the energy expenditure.